Are You Ready? 20 Years of D-Generation X

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Photo: WWE

It was twenty years ago today
Sgt.Β Michaels taught the band to play
They’ve been going in and out of style
But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile
So may I introduce to you
The act you’ve known for all these years
Sgt. Michaels’s Degeneration-X Band

It was twenty years ago that the outlaw faction D-Generation X made it’s debut in the WWE, starting a now two decade legacy as one of pro wrestling’s most popular factions. D-X was juvenile, disrespectful, and dangerous – the perfect combination to help kick start the WWE’s Attitude Era and help the WWF in the battles of the Monday Night Wars.

It all began on August 11, 1997 – months before D-X was formally formed – during a match on Monday Night Raw between Shawn Michaels and one of Mick Foley‘s personas, Dude Love. At the end of the match, Michaels as assisted in beating down Foley with the help of a run in from Triple H and his new bodyguard, Chyna. Despite being long time friends as members of The Kliq – the notorious backstage stable featuring HBK, Triple H, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and X-Pac – the two had not interacted in the WWE Universe previously. But now the Kliq mates were uniting, much like how Nash, Hall and Pac did in WCW with the nWo.

Photo: WWE

The new alliance of the two Kliq mates with the 9th Wonder of the World, Chyna, began to run amok in the WWF, and their “insurance policy” – in the form of a returning “Ravishing” Rick Rude to the WWF – raising the ire of the WWF World Heavyweight Champion Bret “Hitman” Hart, whose Hart Foundation was in the midst of a heel run with anti-US rhetoric. Hart viewed Shawn Michaels and Triple H as perfect examples of what was wrong with the WWF and the USA, calling Michaels and Triple H as “degenerates”.

Photo: WWE

It was the following week that the new foursome finally took their iconic name, inspired by Hitman’s “degenerates” comments the previous week, when they interrupted Bret Hart during an interview on Monday Night Raw.

The D-X feud with the Hart Foundation continued for another month, with Shawn Michaels’ taking British Bulldog’s WWF European Championship before winning the WWF World Heavyweight title from Bret Hart in the infamous Montreal Screwjob. Michaels would lead the faction through into 1998, until he was defeated for the World title by “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at Wrestlemania XIV when seeming D-X ally Mike Tyson turned on the group and allied with Austin instead. It would mark Shawn Michaels’ departure from not only D-X, but from the WWF as well, due to back injuries that had left him physically and mentally broken.

Photo: WWE

THE D-X ARMY

Photo: WWE

The night after WM14, Triple H assumed leadership of D-X and quickly had to restock the faction. Michaels went on hiatus to recover from injuries (although he would make occasional appearances as the Commissioner over the next few years, he wouldn’t return to the ring until 2002) and Rick Rude quit the WWF over the Screwjob and return to WCW, infamously appearing on a pre-taped Raw and live Nitro the same night. Triple H first elevated the New Age Outlaws, the tag team of Billy Gunn and “Road Dogg” Jesse James, to full-time DX status. In the weeks leading up to WrestleMania, the duo had been assisting D-X with some of their shenanigans. But then Triple H returned to the Kliq, and introduced the man formerly known as the 1-2-3 Kid in the WWF, rebranded as X-Pac, into the D-X Army (X-Pac was a play on his nickname in the nWo, Syxx-pac). D-X was now stronger than ever.

The new five member unit would go on to feud with the likes of The Rock and the Nation of Domination, as well as battle The Corporation, being one of the most effective tweener groups of all time – despite their heelish antics (to both heels and faces alike) – they were immensely popular with the audience. During the Monday Night Wars, D-X famously drove an army tank to a WCW live Nitro in an attempt to get WCW to release Nash and Hall from their contracts.

Photo: WWE

At one point, it seemed that Kane was about to join D-X, when he won the WWF World Tag Team titles with X-Pac (who got Kane to utter his first words, “Suck It”), but X-Pac turned on Kane and instead, stole and recruited Kane’s ‘girlfriend’ Tori to become the next D-X member.

Photo: WWE

By 2000, D-X had dissolved, after Triple H went solo (and declared he was behind Steve Austin’s hit and run at Survivor Series) and the remaining members lost their feud against the debuting Radicalz (Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn).

THE REUNION

Photo: WWE

When Shawn Michaels returned to the WWE ring in 2002, after four years away from competition, fans immediately clamoured for a return of the original D-X duo. While it was teased early on, Triple H immediately turned on Michaels and the two feuded instead of teaming up. It wasn’t until 2006 that the two finally pulled the plug and the original D-X tandem of Michaels and Triple H reunited, acquiring WWE Tag Team titles together in the process.

Photo: WWE

Michaels and Triple H weren’t the only D-X reunions to occur either. The New Age Outlaws returned to the WWE in 2014 and began to help their former D-X boss Triple H in his new Authority stable (as did Shawn Michaels) and at WrestleMania 31, the Outlaws, Michaels and X-Pac all came down to help Triple H in his match against Sting (that saw the first ever battle between the nWo and D-X). On the indie circuit, Billy Gunn and X-Pac have made appearances together under the D-X banner, most notably at CHIKARA’s King of Trios 2016, where they won the Tag Team gauntlet match.

THE INSPIRATION

There’s no denying the overwhelming influence the members of D-X have had on the wrestling industry, both collectively and individually. Shawn Michaels is one of the greatest performers the industry has ever seen, Triple H’s creation of NXT and desire to push the women’s division is re-energizing the WWE, and Chyna’s influence on women’s wrestling will never be forgotten or duplicated. And while many point to the nWo as being The Bullet Club’s primary influence (due largely to the black and white colour scheme), the mannerisms of the Kliq hand gesture (used by both the nWo and D-X) and the D-X crotch chops (followed by the customary “Suck it!”) would seem to indicate a closer connection to D-X than the nWo.

Photo: Young Bucks – prowrestlingtees

But even 20 years later, D-X remains one of the most recognizable stables in WWE history, and as long as the fans continue to crotch chop, too sweet and yell “Suck it!”, expect them to remain a part of wrestling’s lore.

In honour of their 20th anniversary, members of D-X – as well as peers in the industry, from indie to WWE Universe – paid the group tribute.

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